News Radio Station Closed in Gambia
IPI Dismayed at the End of Independent Radio News
The Gambian authorities closed independent Teranga FM 97.5 on 13 January, for reasons that are yet unclear. Managing director Ismaila Sisay was reportedly also called in for questioning.
The station, opened in 2009, was popular among Gambians. Teranga FM reportedly broadcast in the local languages of Wollof and Mandinka, local journalists told IPI.
One IPI source said that of the ten radio stations in the Gambia, only Teranga FM would review news carried by the independent press. The source noted that two other stations – Citizen FM and Sud FM – used to do the same, but they were closed down in 2002 and 2008, respectively.
Another journalist told IPI that because of high illiteracy rates in the Gambia, Teranga FM’s work is particularly important. But he added that it was “anybody’s guess” as to the whether the station would reopen.
“We are dismayed to hear that the last radio station carrying independent news in Gambia has been closed,” said IPI Press Freedom Adviser Anthony Mills. “The Gambian authorities must allow all radio stations that were closed to resume operations, and stop denying Gambians their right to information.”
Independent journalists are treated with disdain by the Gambian authorities. IPI welcomes the recent ruling of the ECOWAS Community Court, and urges the Gambia to pay former editor Musa Saidykhan the US$200,000 that were awarded to him by the court on 16 December 2010. The court determined that Saidykhan was indeed tortured by security agents while in custody almost five years ago.
Mr. Saidykhan, who was the editor-in-chief of the banned newspaper The Independent, was detained by NIA forces and the police in March 2006 and held incommunicado for 22 days, during which time he faced continual torture that has left his body permanently scarred. He no longer lives in the Gambia.
The ECOWAS court had previously ruled on the case of another Gambian journalist, Chief Ebrima Manneh, who was arrested in July 2006 and has been “missing” since then. However, despite the court ordering the Gambian government to release him and to compensate him for his arrest, no action has been taken to comply with this order.